Recent Advances in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Innovation Fatigue

Recent Advances in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Innovation Fatigue

Innovation fatigue can be defined broadly as a negative impression of what is characterized as innovation caused by the overuse of the term, poorly-executed initiatives, internal misalignment and innovation for the sake of innovation.

The etiologies of innovation fatigue are:

  1. Pervasive misuse of the term and confusing true innovation with an idea, an invention or an improvement
  2. Buying into the innovate or die mindset without creating the components necessary to do it
  3. Not having the knowledge, skills, attitudes and competencies to create it
  4. Repeated failures attempting to create it
  5. Cynicism about the ability to substantive change organization and systems that are traditionally highly resistant
  6. Frustration that leads to anger and resentment about the process
  7. Unwillingness to learn from other people and industries who have been successful creating truly innovative products and services
  8. Anxiety about the fear of missing out or the "I never saw it coming" syndrome
  9. Believing the press and cyberspace hype
  10. The bandwagon effect
  11. Frustration with ideation , crowd sourcing and brainstorming tools that don't work
  12. Managers saying one thing and doing another, like saying they want to innovate but spending 99% of their time cranking out more revenue from the existing business model
  13. Unequal distribution of capitalists rewards and the disruption caused by innovation
  14. The pace of change that is faster than the ability of people to cope with it
  15. High tech replacing high touch

Signs and symptoms of innovation fatigue are:

  1. Bloated budgets that do not translate into impact
  2. Misplace hires
  3. Spending more and more money on innovation initiatives without evidence that they work
  4. Attending programs, workshops and seminars that capitalize on fear and that do not change what you will do on Monday that you did or did not do on the previous Friday
  5. Buying products and services that have not been clinically validated
  6. It all becomes a joke
  7. Employees pretend to be engaged
  8. Resistance to change increases
  9. People say no
  10. People quit
  11. Managers blow off innovation initiatives or practice innovation theater to satisfy their bosses
  12. They tweak the system and call it innovation
  13. Innovation silos
  14. Innovation theater
  15. More and more CHINOs in the office. You can tell the CHINOs (Chief Healthcare Innovation Officer) in your office by the chinos and polo shirts they wear. But, just because they wear the same uniforms doesn't mean they think and work the same. You see, there is no CHINO school

Recent advances in treatment include:

  1. Recruiting for innovation
  2. Identifying champions with an entrepreneurial mindset
  3. Creating a culture of innovation
  4. Putting in place the leadership, strategy, tactics, structure, process and metrics
  5. Learning how to test business ideas
  6. Leading innovators instead of managing innovation
  7. Teaching innovation and entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship
  8. Understanding the definition of value
  9. Value proposition design
  10. Creating a VAST business model

Chronic innovation fatigue syndrome is endemic to geographic areas but is spreading rapidly. It is one of the many reasons why your innovation initiative will fail.

For of most corporations and businesses, this organizational immune system is the primary force responsible for resisting disruptive innovation and hindering the implementation of the key attributes needed for exponential growth and long-term success. It’s what stops most companies from creating something as big as AWS.

As yet, there is no vaccine to prevent activation of the corporate immune system, but here are some ways to overcome it.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs on Twitter@ArlenMD.

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  • Simon Bowen

    Nailed it !!!

  • Adam Purcell

    Good post

  • Matt Bakter

    Simply outstanding, thank you !!

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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